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Rally & Agility Are No Substitute

January 19th, 2010

I watch the dogs of Rally and agility being led into rings on leads.  I wonder why.  There is even a rule that states the dogs must enter on lead.  If that isn’t a public admission of poor behavior, lack of control, and the failure of obedience training, I don’t know what is.

What won’t be discussed is the fact that the rule also points out that the “trainers” didn’t help the owner and, yet, still got paid and continue to fleece owners of money via a new outlet. Rally and agility are no substitute for lack of behavioral instruction .

At working dog trials there are very few dogs ever kept on leash.  Those that are seem to, quite frequently, be handled by novices or those who have “come over” from obedience backgrounds.

These two diverse approaches to handling dogs are clear examples of control and non-control, both from the dog in the form of self-control, and the handler in the form of trust in their dog and ability to indicate behavioral parameters.

Those handlers who have focused on teaching behavior to their dogs find great success that transfers to all new experiences for their dogs.  They have engaged in a quiet, dignified, and very private and constant education of their dog–and it shows in the dog’s self-control, confidence, and relationship with their human partner.

Those who “train” in the culturally-promoted, failing obedience methods must practice for years in order to gain true control.  This is usually because the dog has outgrown the bad habits, not because of training.

Today’s “trainers” are ignorant of dogs.  They may own dogs, but they’ve never been partners with them.  The dog is usually the vehicle by which the trainer gains attention and status.  These people work the body of the dogs and never, ever really understand or know dogs.  Thus, they tell everyone to practice.

There is nothing sexy about teaching good behavior to a dog, but it certainly makes life better, richer, more varied and a strong, solid relationship between dog and human.

The dogs of behavioral instruction don’t show  up in shelters, rescues and fosters, they are not the dogs with problems.  It is the dogs of obedience training that suffer the ills of  being not understood, not trusted, and confused by the world and their owners.

This is clearly shown when you watch dogs enter the rally, show, or agility arenas.

It’s a very sad commentary that “man’s best friend” will rarely know security, trust, and be happy, well-adjusted and content due to the insistence that “obedience training” will help him.

However, it is a comfort to know that there are still a large number of dogs that will never show up in shelters or rescues due to the fact that they live with competent, knowledgeable dog handlers.  These dogs will  live wonderful, valued, participatory lives filled with trust, inclusion and respect, because they’ve been taught to behave well.

Because they are a solid, well-behaved team of dog and handler the obedience will naturally fall into place.

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  1. From Beth and Sandy, Cascade, January 19, 2010:

    Holy moly. Great post—home run.

  2. From Cindy, Newton, Levi, Nitro, Milo Shipe, February 4, 2010:

    As a participant in these sports, I have to agree. Far too many dogs participating in these venues are not taught to “behave”. I’ve seen owners “protect” their dogs as they know their dog will not be able to walk through the crowd without trying to bite the nearest dog. I’ve seen dogs run out of the rings and “run amuck” while the owner stands there in shock, not understanding why their “well trained” dog is in flight. Personally, I follow these rules in order to compete, but I also know at this point in time it may save MY dogs life because lack of understanding on somebody elses part.
    Susan, you’ve opened my eyes to getting to understand my dogs and I hope some day everybody (and ALOT) of those that compete with their dogs will come to understand that dogs are NOT stupid, they only appear that way when the owner fails to understand how much the dog depends on us to teach them to behave, not to learn the “tricks” of competition. I’m still trying.

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